It is true, Canadian actor Conrad Bain will probably be best known as dad to the two adopted sons on TV’s 80’s series Diff’rent Strokes, however he was much more than that. After serving in the Canadian Armed Forces he studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. In 1956 Bain made his Broadway debut in The Iceman Cometh. Then he returned to Canada and performed at the Stratford Festival in 1958 and continued performing on stage in both the US and Canada until an audition in 1971 led him to television. Bain died on January 14th at 89.
The recent death of theatre luminary, John Neville has left Canada’s stage dark. The English theatre and film actor moved to Canada in 1972 to become the artistic director for Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre, which was only the beginning of Neville’s Canadian theatre career. His achievements as a leading Shakespearean actor with the Old Vic Company in England’s West End, during the 1950’s included roles in Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Othello and Richard II. Neville performed with the greats: Richard Burton, Dame Judi Dench and Vanessa Redgrave.
His Canadian career included stints at Halifax’s Neptune Theatre, and most noticeably was his position in 1986 as artistic director of the Stratford Festival of Canada. Neville’s first year at the Stratford Festival indicated adversity when the Festival was in financial trouble. As a risk taker, Neville was known for putting three of Shakespeare’s lesser-known romances on the Festival’s main stage as well as introducing musicals to the stage, effectively saving the Stratford Festival from their economic woes.
Neville’s claim to fame was his title role in the 1988 film, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, and in the 1990’s was the popular and recurring guest role as the “Well-Manicured Man” on the X-Files.
Neville was named a member of the Order of Canada in 2006 for his extensive work in Canadian theatre and drama. After devoting his life to the development of live theatre, Neville’s talent and inspiration is admired for what he has accomplished in Canada’s theatrical industry. Neville passed away recently at the age of 86.
By Kristen Black
It was sad to learn of the passing of Francesco Quinn recently…it brought back such wonderful memories of his father, the legend, Anthony Quinn. It was 1985 when Quinn Sr. brought his Zorba the Greek production to Toronto’s O’Keefe Centre. I had the pleasure of organizing his publicity schedule and got to know the man a bit while ferrying him from interview to interview. One episode stands out though…an avid fitness person, Anthony or Tony as he liked to be called, rode a bike on the Martin Goodman Trail…in mid March! He was so full of life at that time in his mid 70s. Sad to think his son passed away so young, at 48, of a heart attack. Check out the photo of Tony and I in the Rogue’s Gallery.
Although most will know Peter Falk as the rumpled television detective Colombo, he also had a celebrated stage career. In the 50’s he was in the off-Broadway production of The Iceman Cometh. He also appeared on Broadway in original stage productions of works by Neil Simon, Arthur Miller and Paddy Chayefsky. Falk also worked in film with legendary directors Frank Capra, Blake Edwards, Mike Nichols and John Cassavetes. Suffering the last few years from Alzheimer’s, Peter Falk died at the age of 83 on June 23.